Lee Valley Park Plan to ‘Dispose of’ Waterworks To Fund New Ice Centre!

Up until today we thought the plans to rezone part of Leyton marshes for housing came from Waltham Forest Council, and were hoping that the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) – the organisation that owns the land on our behalf – would object to them. However, a document – lea-valley-eastside-summary-and-position-11-jan-2017-3 – we have seen today shows that the LVRPA have long been in league with the Council.

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The LVRPA wants to ‘dispose’ of the 5 acres of land around The Waterworks Centre to fund the building of a new ice centre across the road, on what is also Metropolitan Open Land. We believe it is wrong for an organisation set up specifically to protect open, green spaces to act as a property developer and ‘dispose’ of land we care deeply about. The Members of the LVRPA are meeting to consider this proposal on 19th January. Therefore we’re asking you to email all the Members of the LVRPA before the meeting on 19thJanuary to object.

If you’re short of time, there is a pro forma email you can send below.

Let’s flood the inboxes of Authority Members and show them how strongly we feel about this!

To: paul.osborn@harrow.gov.uk; derrick.ashley@hertfordshire.gov.uk; david.andrews@hertfordshire.gov.uk; kathy.bee@croydon.gov.uk; john.bevan@haringey.gov.uk; Stephen.Carr@bromley.gov.uk; malcolm.cowan@hertfordshire.gov.uk; gwyneth.deakins@redbridge.gov.uk; cllr.christine.hamilton@enfield.gov.uk; linda.haysey@eastherts.gov.uk; cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk; heather.johnson@camden.gov.uk; Cllr.Denise.Jones@towerhamlets.gov.uk; christopher.kennedy@hackney.gov.uk; cllr.john.knapman@essex.gov.uk; cllr.gerry.lyons@walthamforest.gov.uk; graham.mcandrew@eastherts.gov.uk; smcdermott@wandsworth.gov.uk; cllr.valerie.metcalfe@essex.gov.uk; salim70@hotmail.co.uk; marysartin@yahoo.com; alan.searing@hertfordshire.gov.uk; cllr_alan.smith@lewisham.gov.uk; sydstavrou@hotmail.co.uk; cllr.simon.walsh@essex.gov.uk; lyn.white@ntlworld.com
Cc: sdawson@leevalleypark.org.uk; leamarshes@gmail.com
Subject: Please reject the Land and Property Strategy on 19 January

Dear Authority Members

I am writing to ask you to reject the Land and Property Strategy that will be presented to you on 19 January.

Over 3000 people have already signed a petition (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-council-s-plan-to-build-on-leyton-marshes) calling on the London Borough of Waltham Forest to scrap its plans to rezone a large swathe of green open space around The WaterWorks Centre – part of Leyton marshes – for housing, and I am asking you to play your part in ensuring our green open spaces are protected. This land is Metropolitan Open Land, which means it should be protected from all inappropriate development, just like Green Belt land. Housing is not, and never will be, appropriate for Metropolitan Open Land.

The founding rationale of the Lee Valley Regional Park was to protect the Park as a green lung for London, and all Authority Members have a duty to uphold this. At no point during the consultations about a new ice rink was anyone told that it would be funded by selling off land presently held for recreational use. To do so would subvert the clear intention of the Act of Parliament with which the Park was founded.

Under the Lee Valley Regional Park Act, the Park Authority was given financial independence by virtue of the power to draw a precept from the GLC (now London boroughs) and Essex and Hertforshire, the power to borrow and the power to make charges. In addition, it can receive contributions to its capital facilities from third party bodies. Up until now, the Park Authority has lived within its means, limiting its plans to what it can afford from the resources available to it. To depart from this funding model, by selling off recreational land for development, goes against the principles upon which the Park was established. If the Park Authority concludes that it cannot afford to build a new ice centre without resorting to selling off recreational land for development, then a new ice centre is currently beyond the Park Authority’s means.

Furthermore, it is disingenuous to argue that the fact that The Waterworks Centre is underused is justification enough for closing it. It is underused only because those managing it have let it steadily run into the ground over the last few years, and have resisted all suggestions from local people about how it can be made a vibrant community hub.

Please protect the future of the Lee Valley Regional Park, and reject the Land and Property Strategy that will be presented to you on 19 January.

With best wishes

 

Posted in Leyton Marshes | 2 Comments

Stop Council’s Plan to Build Flats on Leyton Marshes

Please sign this petition against Waltham Forest’s proposals to build flats on the Waterworks, Leyton Marshes:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-council-s-plan-to-build-on-leyton-marshes

The former golf course at Leyton Marshes

The former golf course at the Waterworks, Leyton Marshes

We love the Lower Lea Valley marshes (Leyton marshes, Walthamstow marshes and Hackney marshes). We love having such an amazing, unique, open green space on our doorstep, a place to reconnect with nature and let our imaginations run wild right in the heart of one of the most densely populated cities in the world. And we want to make sure the marshes are there for future generations to enjoy.

This is why we are devastated to learn that the London Borough of Waltham Forest has launched a consultation on their vision for the Lea Valley Eastside (http://walthamforest-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/leabridge/leyton), which involves rezoning the large swathe of green open space around The WaterWorks Centre – part of Leyton marshes – for housing. This can be seen on page 26 of the document, where the site is marked in blue, symbolising residential development. This land is Metropolitan Open Land, which means it should be protected from all inappropriate development, just like Green Belt land. If these plans are approved, then the spectre of our marshes disappearing under high-rise tower blocks comes one step closer.

We have until the end of January to tell the Council – loud and clear – that we will not tolerate building on our marshes. If we can stop these plans in their tracks, then we have a chance to save our marshes for the future.

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Brand NEW merchandise available on our website! Visit: http://www.saveleamarshes.org.uk/Shop.html

New greetings cards of marshes wildlife, Tree Musketeers 2017 calendars and much more available now.

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Snap it up in time for Christmas – all purchases supporting ecological conservation and our campaign work.

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Victory: Polluting Car Wash on Leyton Marsh Refused Permission!

We are delighted to announce that Waltham Forest Council has refused to give permission for the car wash on Leyton Marsh, constructed prior to planning approval, due to its contravention of local policy and the fact it is an inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land.

The cordoned off car wash at Leyton Marshes car park, on Lea Bridge Road.

The cordoned off car wash at Leyton Marshes car park, on Lea Bridge Road.

Save Lea Marshes have conducted a long-running campaign against the car wash, for which an inaccurate planning application was lodged, the Park Act was ignored and M.O.L. policy was contravened.

The car wash was constructed and became operational back in June, prior to planning permission being obtained. We wrote to the Chief Executive of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Shaun Dawson, pointing out that in authorising the car wash, the Authority was acting outside its powers as set out in section 12 of the Park Act  – to operate the park as a place for the “occupation of leisure, recreation, sport, games or amusements and similar activities… the provision of nature reserves and provision and enjoyment of entertainments of any kind.”

Moreover, Section 13 of the Park Act specifically states “nothing in this section shall empower the Authority[…]To carry on the business of maintaining [or repairing] motor vehicles.”

Dawson wrote back to us defending the creation of the car wash facility as not constituting ‘car maintenance’. However, we did not give up on resisting this unsightly and polluting business, adjacent to the river Lea, which is one of the most polluted rivers in Britain, already polluted by oil and detergent run off from roads and car parks. We spoke at the LVRPA Annual General Meeting on 6th July making many arguments against its approval.

SLM Protest at the car wash

SLM Protest at the car wash

After our delegation at the annual Authority meeting in July, we then received news that the LVRPA had responded to our complaints by informing us that their Leisure Trust had “requested that the operator cease trading until such time planning permission is obtained.” We asked people to write to Waltham Forest Council and object to the planning application. We would like to thank everyone who did so.

The Council decided the application under delegated powers, stating that the car wash “constitutes inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land and would have an adverse impact upon the visual amenities and openness within the designated Metropolitan Open Land.” They also stated its contravention to several local policies, namely the Waltham Forest Local Plan – Core Strategy (2012) and policies DM12 and DM24 of Development Management Policies (2013).

Due to its proximity to the Essex Wharf residential development and the hours of use of the operation, the Council also concluded that it “would result in noise disturbance to the nearby residential occupiers.”

Since the decision cites the site’s location within Metropolitan Open Land and the effect of pollution on local residents as grounds for  refusal, this is a welcome boost to our campaign against the schools being built on Metropolitan Open Land opposite.

Well done to all those involved in any way with this campaign!

 

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Our Campaigns Work – Be Part of Them!

It is certainly a difficult political environment for protecting open public spaces and it would be easy to become overwhelmed or despondent about the level of encroachment and development of our protected land in the capital.

However, we would like to share with you some of our campaign victories since we formed in 2012.

No.1 Leyton Marsh

After the 2012 debacle of the ‘temporary’ basketball courts, Leyton Marsh was suffering the semi-permanent effects of a botched restoration. Save Leyton Marsh continued our campaign, putting pressure on the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to demand Leyton Marsh was put back as promised by the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Although, the reinstatement efforts were far from ideal, we made sure that something was done about the appalling drainage and that a new surface was laid on Sandy Path.

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With then Assembly Member Jenny Jones on waterlogged Leyton Marsh

 

No. 2 Hackney Marshes

The sports pitches on Hackney Marshes were seriously damaged by the Radio 1 concert during the summer of 2012.

We successfully campaigned with local sports teams to prevent the use of Hackney Marshes for three private mega-events every summer which would have seen local residents fenced out of the area during the best time of the year for enjoying the outdoors.

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Birbeck Orient wearing our custom T-shirts for the campaign

 

 

3. North Marsh

We launched a petition to demand that the proposed pavilion on Hackney Marshes was situated on the site of the old building, at North Marsh, rather than being located on presently green space in order for the Council to accommodate a 68 space car park. Our petition got hundreds of signatures and we successfully took Hackney Council to a public inquiry where we represented ourselves for 4 days against a professional barrister.

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

 

No.4 East Marsh

Although as a result of the Planning Inquiry, the Inspector did not demand that the pavilion was re-designed in order to protect common land, she did find in favour of our arguments at East Marsh, where there was an unlawfully constructed car park. She ordered that it be removed.

We requested that the car park would be created into a biodiverse habitat and worked with Hackney Council and Hackney Marshes Users Group to achieve this. Works to create this habitat are currently taking place at the car park site on East Marsh.

Dog rose

Dog rose

Posted in Hackney Marshes, Lea Marshes, Leyton Marsh, Leyton Marshes | Leave a comment

Letter to GLA Representative Jeanette Arnold From CPRE London

Dear Jeanette,

We, as well as local residents in Waltham Forest, are extremely concerned about the Thames Water Depot site in Waltham Forest where free school providers are already advertising places – despite no planning permission being sought or approved – on a piece of land which is part of the Lee Valley Regional Park and Metropolitan Open Land (with the same level of protection as Green Belt) and as such a strategically important asset for all of London. MOL is becoming increasingly important to London as a strategic ‘green asset’ which contributes to air cooling, flood management etc, and is becoming more and more important as London densifies.

 

As you know, the Mayor has pledged to protect both Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land and he will be required to consider whether he feels this is justifiable development.

 

We are particularly concerned that:

 

  • ‘Exceptional circumstances’ must be proven to exist to justify building on Metropolitan Open Land. We cannot see that demand for school places constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ when this is a generalised pressure across London. If we take that argument to its logical conclusion, all of London’s protected green spaces could be given over to schools.
  • Applications should be able to show that other alternative sites have been exhaustively considered. The free school providers were shown a number of sites in Waltham Forest, i.e. alternatives sites, and we fail to understand how none of these could have been suitable, in particular in light of the fact that the site which they ‘prefer’ is a piece of a regional park and MOL. Presumably the free school providers have no interest in considering the downside of loss of Metropolitan Open Land to London as a whole – i.e. I can only assume this has not been considered in deliberations. But since this has all be behind closed doors we cannot tell. Perhaps you have more information?
  • The proposed free schools are not located in an area of need for the majority of Waltham Forest residents, according to local campaigners.

 

This case is part of a wider pattern of the Government’s Education Funding Agency acquiring protected land in London to put free schools on and we strongly object to their approach, which effectively bypasses local planning procedures by doing deals behind closed doors and effectively putting pressure on the council to approve a planning application.

Best regards

Alice Roberts

Green Spaces Campaigner

CPRE London

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Protect Metropolitan Open Land in Waltham Forest!

Below is a letter sent to the Mayor of London regarding the proposed loss of land in Waltham Forest. Contact him with your own views: mayor@london.gov.uk

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The current Thames depot site on Leyton Marshes

Dear Mayor of London and GLA Members,

 

I am writing on behalf of Save Lea Marshes, a community group that exists to protect open green space in the Lee Valley. I would like to ask you if you are aware of the proposals to enclose two large areas of protected Metropolitan Open Land in Waltham Forest?

 

I know that you have all made pledges to protect M.O.L. and Green Belt in London so I expect that you will regard the following proposals with concern and will therefore make objections to them on that basis:

 

Thames Water Depot site

The current Thames Water depot site on Lea Bridge Road, which is on the border of Hackney and Waltham Forest, has already been acquired by Lion Academy Trust for the creation of two new schools, without planning permission or prior consultation with the community.

 

As stated, the area is Metropolitan Open Land and should maintain its status as such. We have faced a massive loss of Metropolitan Open Land under the last Mayor of London and we should not lose any more.

 

The proposal to construct free schools is opposed in the local community. The schools will simply be the wrong type of schools in the wrong location. The proposed schools will be for Waltham Forest residents yet the site is in close proximity to more homes in Hackney. This means the majority of school attendees will travel via cars on an already badly congested road, worsening air pollution and dire congestion in this area.

 

The site is directly adjacent to sensitive biodiverse areas, including a nature and bird reserve in the Lee Valley. It borders the historic Victorian filter beds and the Waterworks Nature Reserve.

 

The Trust claims ‘Building the two schools is the only viable way in which the Depot site can be returned to a largely green and open space.’ This is patently untrue. Firstly, the site was bought by central government so there would be no need for it to be sold and re-purchased; ownership could be transferred if the political will was there. Furthermore, nature is wonderful at taking back land that humans have utilised. If the Thames Water hoardings were torn down and the works machinery removed, we would very soon have a large green open space teaming with wildlife, in light of its close proximity to wild areas, and it would cost very little.

 

This particular Academy Trust, which has no experience running secondary schools, has been involved in projects at extortionate costs to the public, such as Brook House primary free school in Tottenham, where £468,000 is paid to Legal and General Property (LGP), an investment fund, every single year for rent of the land. We would not even be losing MOL to a trustworthy cost effective provider of secondary education if the current plans were approved.

 

Current ‘consultations’ are insufficient as the acquisition for a school has already been decided and environmental impacts have been entirely disregarded. Suggestions made by the public including: the reinstatement of Black Path, public access to the river’s edge and a green bridge have been rejected outright by the Trust as ‘too challenging’.

 

Whilst a Community Use Agreement proposed as part of the planning application is welcome, it does not ensure that this huge area of Metropolitan Open Land is open to the public. Public access will be both limited and paid for; automatically excluding many people, which would not be the case if the area were re-opened to the public as green open space which could be easily achieved, as outlined above. 

Ive Farm
 
Planning Application: No. 163113

This is another large area of M.O.L. and a designated playing field in Waltham Forest, bordering the Lee Valley. Planning permission is sought by Waltham Forest Council to convert Ive Farm into synthetic football pitches; the plans are for fenced astro-turf surfaces and a car park (with an entrance via Orient Way) and two bridges for cars over the Dagenham Brook.

 

The scheme seems to originate with a serious mismanagement of an existing facility, the Score Centre, which would be demolished and its existing sports facilities lost to the community. It is not acceptable that the public should lose protected land due to neglect and mismanagement of existing facilities by the Council.

 

In a Cabinet Report Waltham Forest Council, who are applying to themselves for permission, have stated : ‘To deliver the scheme, planning applications will have to submitted for both sites. It is likely that the submission of the Ive Farm application maybe contentious given its status as Metropolitan Open Land and as a designated Playing Field. Whilst this is not envisaged to be a significant problem…‘ which reveals a deeply concerning disregard for upholding the protections afforded to the land.

 

The Planning Statement says that the “social [and economic benefits] outweigh any environmental concerns raised regarding the location”. This claim is not quantified with evidence and presents an unacceptable disregard for biodiversity and sustainability in planning.

 

The proposal includes a car park, which will encourage car use and increase air pollution, running counter to policies on sustainable transport. The bridges included in the plans to facilitate the movement of cars will also lead to the urbanisation of green space. The car park is proposed to be situated on currently biodiverse green space.

 

Moreover, the high flood risk of the area would entail huge costs and mitigation schemes, rendering the development ill-conceived in yet another respect, aside from the unacceptable loss of 5 hectares of open public land.

 

We look forward to hearing from you urgently in relation to these planning matters.

 

Kind Regards,

Caroline Day

On behalf of Save Lea Marshes.

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